SLA's Friday Favourites: Information Books Special :: NEWS
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SLA's Friday Favourites: Information Books Special

22 October 2021 Share

Fantastic non-fiction we think you'll love.

Our Information Book Award celebrates the best of children's nonfiction and, out of the hundreds of books we're sent, it's always such a challenge to whittle it down to a small shortlist. That's why we want to highlight some of the brilliant books that may have only made this year's longlist, but which are still well worth considering for your school library collection. 

So this week, our IBA Judges tell us about some special longlisted titles and how they could be useful for your school.


Title: Wild City

Author: Ben Hoare

Illustrator: Lucy Rose

Publisher: Macmillan

Age: 8-12

Publication date: 1st October 2020

ISBN: 9780753446102

Reviewer: Charlotte Taylor-Smith




What is it about?

Wild City explores the huge variety of animals and insects who call our urban environments their home.

The contents page lists the cities visited through the double page landscapes at the bottom of the page whilst a map above clearly shows the locations across the globe visually and in relation to each other. This is a lovely touch as children could interact with the book by pointing to places they know, even if they can’t read the words.

The following pages explore these cities and their inhabitants, from the animals on show in the sky such as Hawks and Parakeets, to those like pythons and rats, who are hidden from general view living in our sewers, with the text and illustrations of familiar, and many less-so, creatures cleverly woven together. There are also focussed pages which draw together creatures from different locations who share an ability or theme, such as ‘animals on the move’ and ‘making wildlife welcome’ which combine to create an interesting and beautiful read.


What was your favourite fact you learned and why?

My favourite fact is on page 29, which explores a residential street in Berlin. We learn that a Hawfinch’s beak can deliver a crushing force equivalent to a 50kg weight! So much power from a small bird, which I think goes some way to proving you should never make judgements or assumptions about something or someone – be that animal or human!


What lasting impression did it have?

The layout of the pages really stayed with me. I loved how the double page spreads show a city street or an urban park, both bits we are used to seeing and those more hidden away, with the animals pictured in their habitats and the words laid out as part of that scene, not separated. It really demonstrated how these animals are part of our everyday world and meant that there was a lovely flow to reading all the information included on each page.


How can you see this book being used in schools?

The pages on wildlife heroes would be a brilliant example of how people like you and me are helping animals and environments in need, from completing little acts in their own gardens to supporting larger organisations planting trees on a national scale for example, which could support discussions of empathy and personal responsibility that can happen at any time of the school day, not just PSHE sessions.


Available here


Title: Fox: A Circle of Life Story

Author: Isabel Thomas

Illustrator: Daniel Egneus

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Age: 8-12

Publication date: 1st October 2020

ISBN: 9781526600776

Reviewer: Chris Routh




What is it about?

Fox tells the story of a fox with three cubs, who teaches them how to survive before she is run over by a car. The book explains what happens after the vixen dies and explains how new life can grow from old.


What was your favourite fact you learned and why?

The final double-page spread provides more scientific detail about what happens when something dies under the headings of: the building blocks of life, what is death, what is decomposition, the cycle of life & death is not just an end. Straightforward language is used to explain the natural processes involved, while still inspiring a sense of awe about the circle of life.


What lasting impression did it have?

This is a visually stunning picture book, which beautifully evokes the landscape and the creatures living there through the seasons. Although the subject matter is potentially sad, the overall message remains both positive and reassuring: ‘Life is everywhere. Death is not just an end, but a beginning.’


How can you see this book being used in schools?

The quality of the writing and illustrations make this an ideal book for reading aloud as part of a PSHE lesson, for example, or during a natural history topic. The information spread can be used as a point of reference for teachers; but confident young readers with a passion for the natural world might enjoy reading this independently.


Available here